For the past few years, Mister Cee has been leading a double life. The celebrated DJ known as “The Finisher” proudly plays Buju Banton’s “Boom Bye Bye,” a song about murdering gay people, but has also been busted—three times—for soliciting oral sex from gay prostitutes. It’s a paradox that continues to perplex Mister Cee’s fans and friends alike.
Recently, Mister Cee—born Calvin Lebrun—sat down with GQ for a wide-ranging interview that he hopes will finally set the record straight on who really is.
During the article, Mister Cee admits to frequently soliciting prostitutes after being introduced to “tricking” at strip clubs in 2000. He cops to paying for sex to cope with a broken heart and because it satisfied a need. Despite his attraction to sex workers, Mister Cee says he stopped paying for sex. “If I get arrested right now for that same type of activity, I’m doing 60 days in jail, hands down, done,” he told GQ.
While many have accused Mister Cee of being gay because was caught on multiple occasions with male sex workers dressed in drag, he flat-out denies it because he only had oral sex with them.
“No offense to transgender women, but I only get with transgender women for one thing and one thing only, and that’s for oral sex,” he said. “Like I said: I never had sex with a man. I never had sex with a transgender woman.”
He also denied being gay on air, telling listeners: “I know that I’m still in denial, because I know that I love women. Any woman that’s been with me know that I love women. But occasionally I get the urge to have fellatio with a transsexual, a man that looks like a woman,” he told listeners. “And then I’m sitting here saying, ‘But I’m not gay,’ because I haven’t penetrated another man.”
The distinction seems ridiculous, but GQ gives some context about Mister Cee’s tenuous relationship with his sexuality.
After the first Daily News article came out, he went on the air and said nothing, just played Biggie’s “Dead Wrong” and Nas’s “Hate Me Now,” songs that in their truculence and incredulity proclaimed his innocence for him. He got caught again, in May of last year, ended up back in the Daily News—hot 97 dj “mister cee” charged with trying to pick up male prostitute, blared the headline—and then two days later, he was back on air, sitting across from his program director, Ebro. “Because I was like, ‘Cee, what the fuck. What are we doing?’ ” Ebro remembers. “We got on the air and had the conversation.”
Or, more accurately, didn’t, as Cee stammered out equivocations (“Even if I wanted to lie, that’s my choice”) and told the same lies he’d been telling his therapist and everyone else. All while a city of profoundly confused people listened in their cars and office buildings and headphones, wondering how the Hot 97 morning show had become a live broadcast of some unfathomable form of public therapy or performance art. “I don’t have any more questions,” Ebro said in disgust, ending the conversation.
Ebro says now that he had a good idea he was being lied to: “I had my suspicions.” But at the same time, he adds, “I’ve met people and have known people in my life that did not categorize themselves as gay, right?” So “in the back of my mind I’m thinking, ‘He just doesn’t categorize himself that way.’ ”
Cee had grown up in a conservative West Indian family, didn’t know how they’d react. And he’d come up in a rap era that grew less tolerant, from its first steps in downtown clubs in the late ’70s and early ’80s—where hip-hop fans and gay men and women used to stand side by side—to the ’90s, when Eazy-E died of AIDS, then thought by many to be a “gay” disease, and so got written out of the vanguard of rap history. Even fundamentally tolerant guys like Biggie, back then, might rhyme something like: Money and blood don’t mix, like two dicks and no bitch.
It didn’t matter that when Cee started getting caught, friends and other artists got in touch or sent their support. 50 Cent. Wyclef. Busta Rhymes. In 2011, Cee says, “I reached out to Jay Z for a favor, and he came through in less than a day.” Even then, he was afraid of what might happen if people learned the truth. Both his parents are dead. So is his grandfather. Now Cee takes care of his grandmother, his aunt, whoever needs help. “I hold my family down, man,” he says.
So he continued to lie. “It wasn’t even about losing the job. I was just afraid of what the perception was going to be about me and that people was still going to want to stand behind the Mister Cee brand,” he says. Promoters. People he worked with. And if they didn’t, “how was I going to be able to continue to support and take care of the people that I care about?”
Finally, in September—after three arrests that Cee will admit to, two Daily News articles, and one excruciating on-air interview—a blogger named Bimbo Winehouse, posing as a sex worker, made a video filmed inside Cee’s car as they negotiated a price for sex. Within a few days, the video was on the Internet. That day, September 11, Cee went on air and resigned, admitting nothing but that he believed it was untenable for the station to continue employing him.
While it is entirely possible that Mister Cee is not gay, he could be bisexual after all, the tone of the GQ piece proves he has yet to sort out his sexuality. Though he says he can’t see himself in a longterm relationship with a woman right now, when and if he does decide to settle down, I just hope he’s honest about his past and what that may mean for their future.